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The Sisters of Providence: Love, mercy and justice

The Sisters of Providence of St. Mary-of-the-Woods stand in front of Providence Spirituality and Conference Center with several Providence Associates. Photo by Amy Miranda

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"Put yourself gently into the hands of Providence."

The Sisters of Providence of St. Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, are a congregation of nearly 320 Roman Catholic women religious who minister in 17 states, the District of Columbia and Asia.

The Sisters of Providence exist to further God's loving plans by devoting themselves to serving others through works of love, mercy and justice. They are an apostolic congregation and serve among people, wherever the need is greatest.

Some sisters teach or serve in school administration. Others work in parishes, diocesan administration, social justice services, counseling and health care. Some work in the administrative offices of the Congregation or for other religious organizations.

The sisters who are retired or ill serve in prayer ministry, honoring the many requests for prayer submitted to the Sisters of Providence.

The Sisters of Providence established their first "distant" mission in 1889, at St. Rose of Lima School, located in Chelsea.

Currently, 11 Sisters of Providence live and minister in the archdiocese of Boston in education; social, health care and consultant services; finance and pastoral ministry.

St. Theodore Guerin arrived at St. Mary-of-the-Woods in 1840 with a group of five Sisters of Providence from France, and founded a novitiate for the Sisters of Providence and a school for girls.

The Academy, now known as St. Mary-of-the-Woods College, was opened in 1841. It is the oldest Catholic college for women in the United States.

Eventually, more schools were established throughout Indiana and eastern Illinois, as well as orphanages in Vincennes and free pharmacies at St. Mary-of-the-Woods and Vincennes.

Mother Theodore Guerin was canonized in October 2006. A permanent shrine for her was established in October 2014.

There have been 18 general superiors for the Sisters of Providence. Currently, Sister Denise Wilkinson, SP serves as general superior. Other sisters serving on the General Council include Sisters Lisa Stallings, SP (Vicar), Jeneen Howard, SP, Dawn Tomaszewski, SP and Mary Beth Klingel, SP.

There have been more than 5,200 women who have entered the Sisters of Providence since 1840.

In 2006, the Sisters of Providence also started the Providence Associate relationship. Currently, there are more than 200 Providence Associates affiliated with the sisters. Providence Associates are women and men, 18 years or older, of diverse faith traditions who seek a formal relationship with the Sisters of Providence.

They have their motherhouse at St. Mary-of-the-Woods, located just northwest of downtown Terre Haute, Indiana. Other points of interest on the grounds at St. Mary-of-the-Woods include the shrine for Mother Theodore Guerin, the National Shrine of Our Lady of Providence, White Violet Center for Eco-Justice, Providence Spirituality and Conference Center, the Church of the Immaculate Conception, the Log Cabin Chapel, Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto and St. Anne Shell Chapel.

More information about the Sisters of Providence and their ministries may be accessed at www.spsmw.org.

Jason Moon is media relations manager (jmoon@spsmw.org or 812-535-2810) for the Sisters of Providence of St. Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana.

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